A corporate bankruptcy has brought the end of the Washington Township Getty gas station and garage. The business will be shutting its doors by February 25, according to Ted Foundopoulos, the owner.
Getty Petroluem Marketing (GPMI), the company which Foundopoulos had contracted with to operate the gas station, declared bankruptcy December 5. As a result, he lost a $58,000 security deposit on the site.
Getty Realty, a separate company from GPMI which owns the property in Washington Township, signed a 15-year lease with BP for the site and 27 other Getty gas stations in New Jersey and New York.
Foundopoulos said BP offered him the opportunity to continue running the station for 14 months once they take over, but he would have had to pay another $30,000 deposit and still only make a 2 percent commission on gas sales, about $.07 per gallon.
"I'm not going to take their deal," Foundopoulos said.
According to Foundopoulos, the problem behind the whole situation lies with the large oil companies and a lack of government regulations to protect local business owners. The companies set the gas prices, rent and hours of operation local owners must use, but pay so little to them that some owners end up making less than minimum wage after all the expenses, he said.
"They don't care," Foundopoulos said. "They just want to work you to the bone. They're looking for cheap labor. Big business, big government and big petroleum are pushing the American working guy out."
Foundopoulos also said he was disappointed the government did not protect the local business owners like himself who lost their security deposits when GPMI went bankrupt.
"There is nobody out there that is doing anything about this," Foundopoulos said.
Once the Getty closes, Foundopoulos said he plans to take a month off to think about what he will do next, while also spending more time with his family following the recent death of his father-in-law.
He hopes to find a new location.
"I have a lot of people out there who have followed me for a long time, and I am grateful to them for that," Foundopoulos said.
Still, what's next for Foundopoulos is uncertain. He is limited physically since he had back surgery last June. There's also the issue of dealing with the large oil companies which have not treated him well so far.
"You're paying for your own job," Foundopoulos said.